7 December 2023

Ask the expert

| Paul Gover
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Hyundai Tucson

A 2023 Hyundai Tucson N-Line Elite 2.0D. Photo: James Coleman.

Q: I’m purchasing a Blue Ember Metallic Ford Mustang Dark Horse and I’m totally disgusted and saddened after reading that our Australian car will have 349 kiloWatts and 548 Newton-metres compared with the US original of 373 and 567. That’s 24 kiloWatts and 19 Newton-metres down, so no longer an icon car in Australia and just a nobbled weak pony.
The worst thing of all is that the standard V8 Mustang has only 2kW and 2Nm less and the Dark Horse is $25,000 more expensive than The GT. Who is Ford Australia kidding?
I realise our Australian Design Rules are much stricter but Ford Australia should have asked the engineers in the US to find a way to decrease this huge gap.

Rohan Le Grew

A: It’s time for you to get down off your high horse, based on background from Ford in Australia. For a start, the right-hand drive car has a different exhaust manifold and that affects the engine’s output, but there is also a different engine calibration for Australian noise and emission regulations, as well as different ways of measuring power and torque. Ford admits it was never going to achieve the same outputs as the USA, but advises to wait for the real-world driving experience in Australia. Also, the Dark Horse is a Mustang model and not just an engine. Among the changes are wider wheels, unique suspension tuning with stiffer and lower springs, manual transmission and differential coolers, a different gearbox, as well as cosmetic changes to the bodywork and interior.

Q: After waiting 10 months I took delivery of my 2023 Ford Everest Platinum but I hardly drive it due to an appallingly soft and soggy suspension which seems to be reserved for the Platinum.
Are you aware of this condition? I am waiting on upgrading it through a company called Dobinsons with some custom coil springs. Everybody wants to sell me a lift kit, but I don’t want to raise the vehicle. It takes Dobinsons 10-12 weeks to make the coils and I am looking forward to when they fit new coils and shocks front and rear. As a matter of interest my brother has the same vehicle with the same issue so he ordered the same for his car at the same time as mine. I would think Ford’s marketing department has something wrong here, as more Platinums will tow caravans with some soft off-road work versus the entry level getting in amongst some of the more rugged 4WD duties. Perhaps you could put me on the right track when I have been told this soft ride is to compete with the Prado which apparently also has this American Boulevard type ride.

Roger and Danny Wallis

A: You misunderstood the intent and intended buyers for the Everest Platinum – it’s the fully-loaded prestige model and aimed at people who want some prestige and comfort in their new SUV. It’s not the long-distance heavyweight tow model, or the serious off-roader and the softer ride is part of the package to make people more comfortable in day-to-day family motoring. You exaggerate about the ‘American boulevard’ ride, as it’s still a long way firmer than the old Cadillacs from the 1950s and 1960s which had that reputation. Good luck with the updating work.

Q: My son recently turned 17 and is currently on his learner’s permit, but we have not purchased a second-hand car for some time so we are looking for some advice on a reasonable budget that we should target. We are also looking for some advice and direction on suitable cars. My son is currently in Year 11 and has not decided what to do yet but will most likely go into a trade or TAFE related course.

Andrew Green

A: If your son is headed for a trade you’re likely thinking of a pick-up for work, so check out the Nissan Navara and Mitsubishi Triton as they will do the same job as a Toyota HiLux for considerably less money. If the target is a car then a Kia Cerato will be excellent value and a good way to hit the road. In either case, you need to set the budget first and then head to www.carsales.com.au to see what’s available in that price range.

Q: We are both in our late-but-fit 70s and would like a small SUV for two of us. We’re keen on Mazda CX-3 Maxx from 2017-2020, spending $25-30,000 but have also heard the Honda HR-V could be good but with too much road noise and a weak motor. Now we hear the Mazda 2015 –2018 had some recalls with iStop failing, rear camera failing, some motor issues and air-conditioning trouble. Please if you could give us some advice what to buy. We’re also told to stay clear of Mitsubishi ASX and Nissan Qashqai.
We are confused.

Gary and Val Richardson

A: The CX-3 is a solid, reliable and sensible choice. It gets The Tick from me. You should always get the newest model possible, since it will have newer safety technology, and aim for less than 160,000 kilometres. If you’re not technical, get your local motor club to do a pre-purchase inspection. The best marketplace for secondhand cars is at www.carsales.com.au, but also check with friends and family to see if they have something.

Q: There are so many cars to choose from so I would appreciate your advice on what you would suggest before I test drive. I’m after a small SUV, mainly for the height for ease of getting in and out of it. I only drive around the suburbs and I am a mature lady.

Lorraine Byatt

A: Best is to narrow your choice down to two, then test drive to see which you prefer. Be practical, but also allow the emotions to also guide you. The easy way is to go for a Toyota, but they have premium pricing and long waiting lists for delivery, so head to the Kia and Nissan showrooms. There are a couple of suitable Kia models, most likely the Seltos will be best, and also check out the Nissan Qashqai as it’s one of the newest compact SUVs and will tick the boxes – including an available, but not cheap, hybrid model. For me, the Qashqai is the one to beat.

Q: My 74-year-old mum has a 2017 Mitsubishi ASX that has done 90,000 kilometres and I wonder if it’s a common problem for the transmission to need replacing. She is a single pensioner and doesn’t have a lot of money. Unfortunately the warranty ran out last year. We are waiting to hear from a mechanic that is talking to Mitsubishi about it. What would you suggest?

Nadine Gunningham

A: The ASX has a great reputation for reliability but sometimes things just fail. If the car is only just out of warranty then you should approach Mitsubishi Australia directly, not rely on a mechanic and ask for what’s called a ‘loyalty contribution’. It won’t cover all the costs but would help.

Q: My parents, who are in their late 70s, are in the market for a new small car to replace their 2010 Nissan Tiida. Their budget ranges from $30,000 to $40,000. They currently own a 2012 Subaru Forester for longer drives and are looking to replace their smaller car. Notably, they’ve been quite impressed with my 2018 Hyundai Kona, which they find comfortable and easy to drive.
I’d greatly appreciate it if you could provide some suggestions or advice on small cars within their budget that might suit their needs, that include all latest safety features inclusive parking sensors and reversing camera.

Megan Morris

A: A Kona would be a good choice, but perhaps mid-sized SUVs are getting too big now compared with their Forester. Get them to test drive the latest Subaru Crosstrek. And also advise them to get rid of the both the Forester and Tiida, as they need maximum safety protection and they are hugely outdated on that front.

Q: I am looking for a small hybrid car, so what do you think about the Hyundai Kona hybrid at $50,000 and Subaru Crosstrek hybrid at $50,500. The waiting lists and the prices are about the same. Also the MG hybrid, since I’m in the market and wonder what do think about it. Which one would you prefer to drive and which is better?

Amal Baho

A: The Kona would be my choice, just ahead of the Subaru based on size, value and the long warranty. The MG sells on price, but is a generation behind the others in the way it drives and the all-round quality.

Q: We currently have a 2015 Honda CR-V all-wheel drive with 100,000 kilometres. It is a great car however my partner likes to change around a bit. So what is your opinion on Mitsubishi Outlander and Kia Sorento. Since we travel main roads only, is a two-wheel drive okay?

Cathy Gleeson

A: The Sorento is the better pick, but it is quite big and you would probably be better with a Kia Sportage which is the current competitor to the CR-V. The Outlander is okay, but competes mostly on price. Front-wheel drive will be fine for your needs and will also save you money over a four-wheel drive.

Q: My wife and I welcomed twin boys in late 2021 and, with our family growing to six, we needed a people mover to get around. We ordered a Carnival through a Kia dealer in September 2021 in preparation and were told it would be 5-6 months. Of course, this got delayed like with everyone else that ordered a new car in the last few years but it’s now November 2023 and the car hasn’t arrived yet. I see plenty of them around and I can’t imagine they were all ordered before 2021 – but the dealership insists that the manufacturer is just extremely slow in fulfilling the Platinum variant. My contract of sale doesn’t seem to have any sunset clause and I have paid a $500 deposit, so hopefully they still need to fulfil my order at some stage?
We have since bought an old Carnival to get us by, so this is not critical and indeed there are plenty of worse things going on around the world. I’m just concerned that I’m being taken advantage of after 25 months of waiting.

Kris Faife

A: There are waiting lists for everything in the Kia catalogue and remember the fully-loaded Platinum has the most microchips which means it is the most likely to be delayed. Kia has also been prioritising lower-grade models, since it can use the same number of chips as one flagship model to build more of the lesser cars. You are best to bypass the dealership and contact Kia Australia directly, as they have a system to track orders and delays.

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